Friday, May 27, 2011

Wedding 3-26-51

Bruce had pondered for quite a time who would be his Best Man. He didn’t choose a brother or a cousin or friend. He chose the Hebron Presbyterian Church’s young Minster, Reverend Ted Walworth, about our age. The family knew this young man well, having spent considerable time with him, including sharing meals together. This was OK with Fr. Miller. I have a hunch for us almost anything would go for Bruce was his convert, ta-dah. Bruce intention was a gesture towards his mother who was a loyal servant in the family’s Presbyterian faith. Ted’s being present provided for a nice Stewart family participation in our celebration. Ted was young, considerate, and open enough to accept our invitation. I would like to reach him in this year 2011. I would be disappointed if he were not one of the forward minds within his sect reaching out with other faith paths to an ‘emerging Church’. You need to know, however, this was a shocker for the Catholic Church to be so fraternizing. Impossible! Catholics weren't allowed to attend Protestant weddings, to visit their churches, [they could come to ours, no Eucharist], to marry a Protestant in Church [was my problem wasn't it?], to take swimming lessons at the YWCA. We had our own schools and we had a feeling as kids we were better than other kids [we were going to heaven when we died]. The Lutheran school kids which visited the public school where I taught in Milwaukee for released time 'cooking class' were just as stuck up as we. [They were told they were the ones going to heaven].
Ted Walworth, Madeline Sue, Bruce, MaryKay, Elayne

One disappointment for me was to not have our small ring bearer, Bill. Someone in the Whitney family was seriously under the weather. Bud, Francese, Patsy and Bill  could not make the trip upstate from Springfield to be present the day of our wedding. I don't recall that we had any rehearsal.
Easter Monday, 1951, is the calmest day in my life. I awoke this morning. I dressed myself as the bride. No breakfast to prepare or to consume as we are each fasting that we might receive the Eucharist. Dad drove me over to the church. Maybe we are not all in the car as I’m remembering feeling I had spent some special time with my father. This is a cold March day,  fairly bright. Flecks of snow are flying through the air. It’s a first wedding amongst the cousins. Many of them have come to my wedding. I see them in the photographer Montgomery's photos or see their names on the wedding gift cards. They being younger this may be a first wedding ever attended. It is my first wedding I attended.  My cousin Alice Morris married about this time, also. She is almost three years younger than I. 

Photographer arrives early and leads us down to the reception hall for formal posed pictures. He does this before the decorating is complete. He must have planned on going home after the wedding. We have no breakfast pictures nor later reception pictures. The receptacle on the wedding table has no roses in it. We chose yellow roses and gardenias wherever a bouquet is called for- mine, Elayne’s, Susie, boutonniere, on the altar, on the reception table. Candid photography as I said before was new to him. 

I don’t remember following any protocol other than the Mass itself, which is quite formal, the day being Easter Monday, a festive liturgy. Other than that our wedding was quite simple. Besides extended family surrounding me, the large Stewart clan and my own Bergin/Morris/Collins/Dobeus, there are neighbors from the community, my sister teachers from Darien, both the grade and high school faculty plus Mr. Cox, my Superintendent, his wife and son. Wedding protocol has certainly developed since these fifties, a new brand of Emily Post in future years as families became more affluent, I suppose. A great deal of money to be made. 

Seated left to right: Beth, Robert Stewart, Charlotte Eggert, my Mother

I don’t have a wedding veil covering my face as I arrive on dad’s arm at the altar. Father of the bride traditionally passes over his daughter's hand to a new man's keeping. There’s no special processional playing from the organ loft, though Molly would be playing some notes. Mother tended to most of that. I see from the photos there is a white rolled out carpet down the aisle. 
Ted is far left, Bruce, my Mother,MK, Brother Bill
I wrote in my scrapbook: "We were married Easter Monday. Our wedding Mass was a High Mass because of this day. The Gloria and Credo therefore were sung. Ordinarily at a Nuptial the dialog is verbal. We were thrilled beyond measure because of this exception. Our entire day seemed more holy because of the glorious start."
Elsie, Fred, MK, Bruce, ?, Elayne, Alice

Someone other than myself could best describe the breakfast at the Gargoyle, located on a main street in Lake Geneva immediately following the wedding nuptial. Family needed to carpool to it's location. What I recall is it being such a happy extended family time together, one of the few times now since our grandparents died. I remember folks breaking out into song as is so usual in this family. Especially, we sing the familiar Irish ballads. Even Jim sings solo. He finds this an opportunity to use his nice voice. Uncle Jim would have sung as well. Such a merry meal. This was a classy, intimate family breakfast. We were waited on by  the Gargoyle's highly professional staff.  And here is where we initially latched on to ‘Aabba Dabba Honeymoon' sung so joyfully. When we returned to the church basement for our reception it seems most of the other wedding guests had managed to be present and our celebration continued. There was music and dancing and cutting of the cake. 

At 3 P.M. Bruce and I left the hall, retreating to the rectory. Father had invited us to use an upstairs bedroom in the rectory afterwards to change out of wedding garments. Bruce helped me unzip  out of my long, ice blue satin gown. I felt so young, so his, so special, so beautiful, standing before him now in my white, lacy petticoat before donning my travel clothes. I felt like his bride, indeed, with the warm, intimate feelings swirling within me. [I spoke with him this afternoon about these memories.] Seems it wasn’t  that delightful for him. The responsibilities for the business, the formalities of marriage, kept popping up in his head and lay heavily upon him.  He felt relief now as we said goodbye to it all and went off alone, together, our own merry way in our blue '47 Chevrolet ['see the USA in your chevrolet'] family car as Mr. and Mrs. Bruce M. Stewart. I always did like the surname, Stewart.
We were two tired people. Our plan was to drive to Rockford, IL and stay the night at the Faust Hotel downtown, a distance of approximately 35 miles. And so we did. Never occurred to us to make reservations. We carried our luggage in and registered at the desk. We were given R. 723. The journey now commenced to spend at least the next 60 some years as husband and wife, set up home in various places at various times and raise our family. As my parents talked of 5 Acres and Independence we often shared reference to Cheaper by the Dozen. Is there some connection herein? Some family scripting? Hmm!

Another  wonderful event happened March 26, 1951, the very day my family was enjoying my wedding celebration. Jim shares:
"Hoping in your blog you intend to mention that the day of victory over one Wilder Smith, [the banker] came on the exact date of your wedding - providence came forth with a most unusual visit from Einar Bakkom to our cow barn being attended by Bill Miller.  Never queried Bill about the details but, our not being present  [family away at my wedding] perhaps enabled Bakkom to take the time to decide there and then of an offer of $300. per cow.  That purchase price more than paid off the remaining mortgage. [I didn't know of this coincidence until Jim shared email, winter of 2011].
 As the baby of the family, I was to experience such a one day realization of what a vital role my unfolding youth was to have for my parents and siblings. Free at Last, Free at Last. Needless to say while you were on your honeymoon, we basked in the realization of our 1st real sense of financial security, with only relaxing strolls to the barn to tend to the remaining 25 or so younger stock, not requiring the twice daily mandatory care of 34 milking cows.  It was something commensurate I suppose to one who has won a mega dollar lottery." 

Way down in the Congo land sitting in a coconut tree,
there was a monkey and a chimp--and Lordy how she loved him.
Every night in the pale moonlight sitting in the coconut tree,
these love words she always said to he...

"Abba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba"
said the monkey to the chimp.
"Abba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba"
said the chimpee to the monk.
All night long they chattered away.
All day long they were happy and gay,
swinging and swaying in a honky, tonky way.

"Abba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba dabba"
said the chimp, "I love but you."
Abba dabba dabba in monkey talk means
"Chimp, I love you too."
Then the ol' baboon, one night in June,
married them and very soon,
they sailed away on an abba dabba honeymoon.

                                                                                  Woodstock Daily Sentinel
                                                                                        Thursday, April 5, 1951

                                                                                  MRS. BRUCE STEWART 
                                                                            in her elegant satin wedding gown
                                                                           directly after the marriage ceremony 
                                                                           performed in St. Joseph's Church in 
                                                                           Richmond, March 26. Mrs. Stewart 
                                                                           is the former Mary Bergin, Hebron.
                                                                           [Montgomery Studio Photo]


  1. What a nice touch to choose Hebron Presbyterian Church’s young Minster, Reverend Ted Walworth, as the best man. I am sure Dad's side of the family really appreciated it.

  2. I just discovered the Bakkom's owned our house on Lake Ave in 1951. They sold a few short months later. What where the Bakkom's like?

    1. I might reply though I haven't been given enough information from you. My husband and I were in their daughter's class through High School. Where is Lake Ave. and who are you? Bakkom's are not part of my story.

    2. My name is Valerie. It all started with a penny found on our property of 458 lake ave. Woodstock, il It made me curious of the history of the property. Upon searching deed records, the Bakkom's were owners. How I came to your wonderful blog was by doing a search on the Bakkom name. My "little" research project has morphed into a book I am putting together personalities of our house. What was your maiden name? A librarian is curious.

    3. Bergin. Mary Kay, I can't stop reading! Your writing is so eloquent and your memories are so detailed. Heartache, family determination, joy, pride. There maybe a generation gap but somehow I understand your mother's loneliness, your dedication to your father, your handiness around the house, your oneness with gods creation, motherhood, ect. I could go on and on. That penny has brought me so much more than I could have ever hoped. Thank you for sharing your memories with the world. Valerie

  3. I knew Ted Walworth as he lived in our home when we lived in the Presbyterian Manse in Hebron when he came on weekends to preach, driving his yellow convertible. I believe he was still completing his studies during the week.

    I also knew the Bakkoms. Their daughter Nancy was a special friend who took me & several other children on the family's cabin cruiser on Lake Geneva. Another time I visited their home in the country & saw their palomino horses. They had a donkey, too, who came part way into the dining room when I was there--just its front part.

    If anyone knows Nancy Bakkom's married name I would really like to know it. I know she went to Beloit College, class of '5l, and was in several plays.


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